Know Your Terms: Satin Weave

Because dropping the lingo is half the fun of dressing well.

Plain weave and twill are both in the bag. Time to move on to the final installment of our three-part series on the fundamental weaving techniques: Satin weave.

Given the name, it shouldn’t come as a shocker that satin weave is used primarily to produce those super classy sheets you just got for your revolving, circular waterbed (and the lapels on your tux, if you didn’t go for the grosgrain option). The finished product does depend on the threads used—filament threads like nylon and silk make satin, short staple yarns like cotton make “sateen”—but by and large, satin weave means satin fabric. Etymology can be a pretty circuitous thing on some occasions, but this isn’t one of them.

The weave itself is characterized by passing the warp under at least four weft yarns. Or, conversely, passing the weft under at least four warp yarns. Either way, the result is a fabric with very few intersections between the warp and weft. Instead of tucking in and out, most of the threads “float” on the face of the fabric, which makes for a relatively flat surface. This surface is more prone to snagging than its textile cousins, but it also reflects light far more evenly than the highly textured faces of plain weave or twill fabrics. That’s why those new sheets gleam so wonderfully in the soft light of the lava lamp you picked up on the same trip. It’s also why your lapels are faced with satin instead of denim—aside from basic sartorial civility, that is.

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